Tuesday, 5 December 2017

TRANSFORMING LIVES AND TRANSFORMING SLOGANS



The Alice in Wonderland world of Riverside
Housing



Illustration of White Rabbit Illustration It`s a slogan that Theresa May might have found useful when she took over at Number Ten and on the step outside famously spoke about promising to help those who were “just about managing.”


The slogan is “transforming lives, revitalising neighbourhoods.” The slogan is used extensively by Liverpool-based Riverside Housing Association to describe its work of running a massive estate of 50,000 homes.


Critics frequently remind Mrs Mayof her words
and point accusing fingers when they think she is failing on her promise.



Riverside Housing  Association critics  do just the opposite. They have no need for accusing fingers. Instead, they tell Riverside:”You are doing what you say. You are transforming lives and you are revitalising neighbourhoods.


Then the critics add this damning qualification:“But the transforming and revitalisation are just the opposite of what you intended.”


An appalling example of this Alice in Wonderland world of Riverside is in the town of Longtown near Carlisle where a solar panel deal for tenants has turned into a disaster. It is all because of the  bungling and incompetence of Riverside

In that disaster, an estimated 60 tenants had promises of cheaper electricity. Instead, these 60 unfortunate people had bills of up to £4,000.

These people need no  prompting to say their lives have been transformed- transformed for the worse.

As for revitalising neighbourhoods, Riverside`s recent  moves to try to turn things round in Longtown are proof that the neighbourhood has been changed- again for the worse.

Riverside  cannot escape the fact that these social houses have been so blighted by its own bungling (they still have the dodgy heating systems) that any  prospective tenants  don`t want to know.

Riverside not surprisingly got no return on its investment. Far from it. Riverside has lost many thousands of pounds. More than half the 50 Riverside flats in the town are now empty and tenants estimate that Riverside is losing over £100,000 a year in lost rent.

It is no surprise that Riverside is fighting back. It recently circulated a flyer(below) in the town inviting people to what it called "resident`s meetings".(Riverside needs to learn where to put the apostrophe!)

The flyer glossed over the problems. The flats were referred to as apartments.
It went on:”We want to hear from residents, ideas about what can be done to make these apartments more attractive to local people…some incentives may be available.”

The flyer urged people to recommend a friend as prospective tenant. It said:
“If you recommend a friend who becomes a tenant and you`re a Riverside customer, we`ll give you a week`s free rent.

“Do come along to the residents` meeting and open day and meet the team”.

Not surprisingly, the flyer had little or no effect.
No one turned up to the meeting and no-one was at the open day.

One tenant said: "Riverside have really shot themselves in the foot. What has now happened is what we forecast would happen. Riverside now have such a bad reputation in Longtown that local people just don`t want to know.

"As for Riverside tranforming lives and revitalising neighbourhoods, that is rubbish."

 Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803
 

Monday, 13 November 2017

AFTER THE BUNGLING, A £160 MILLION SOLAR DEAL



Dutch sunshine
fails to shift Riverside`s
black clouds
The headline on the magazine article says it all: Solar Deal  Is The Start Of A New Era . Many  millions of pounds are being invested by a Dutch firm in solar panels for British social houses says the article.

Image result for BEVAN JONES SUSTAINABLE HOUSING

 “This is a  good deal for everyone -tenants get cheaper electricity, landlords improve the property and investors in the Dutch firm get a return on their  investment,” says housing expert Bevan Jones(left) in the article. It is published by the social housing trade paper, Inside Housing.

 Yes, the solar deal is the start of a new era for some people. But for many others, the deal has bitter memories.


They recall  an earlier solar deal- at Longtown in Cumbria- that has turned into a disaster because of the  bungling and incompetence of the landlord, Riverside Housing Association.


In that disaster, an estimated 60 tenants had promises of cheaper electricity. Instead, these 60 unfortunate people had bills of up to £4,000.


In that disaster,  Riverside did not get its property improved. Far from it. The social houses are now so blighted by Riverside`s bungling, that any  prospective tenants  don`t want to know.


And because of that disaster,  Riverside not surprisingly got no return on its investment. Far from it. Riverside has lost many thousands of pounds.


This story of the Riverside`s bungling has been told in earlier posts on this blog over the past months and years.
In this post we report that more than half the 50 Riverside flats in the town are now empty and tenants estimate that Riverside is losing over £100,000 a year in lost rent.


Let us compare that Riverside chapter of bungling with what is proposed by the Dutch  firm, Solarplicity and Maas Capital  which will be investing a total of £160 million in solar panels for British social housing.


Bevan Jones, managing director of the advisory firm Sustainable Housing comments in his Inside Housing  article:


“This investment  should alert those delivering social housing that responsible, ethical and sustainable investment has entered the mainstream in UK housing.


“While many will look at this as a challenge to the dominance and continued failure of the Big Six energy companies to provide value for money and service, it actually marks a wider change towards more responsible investment strategies”.


 More responsible investment strategies  are just what was absent when Riverside embarked on its Longtown chapter of bungling and incompetence.

More responsible investments strategies.


 Carlisle Tenants` and Residents` Federation publishes this blog. Information about the Federation is available on 01228 522277 or 01228 532803